, April 13, 2017 | More Post by

Welcome to our “Pink Link Stories” blog series! These stories are from women who are a part of (or support) our virtual Pink Link community for breast cancer survivors (pinklink.org). Each quarter, we offer a new writing prompt — this quarter, we asked women to share their breast cancer story. We will publish a few of those entries* here (lightly edited for length and typos), and we’ll also be randomly selecting one entrant each quarter to receive a $50 gift card! If you want to keep up with future writing prompts, sign up for our newsletter here.*(Due to the number of entries, we cannot guarantee all entries will be posted on our blog and we reserve the right to post based on our discretion.) 

I was diagnosed with stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) at the age of 38 on May 1, 2015. Before then, I was a fitness and nutrition geek. I worked out at the gym 5 days a week and did yoga at least 3 or 4 times a week. I was eating clean, organic non-processed foods. I have had this routine for almost 10 years. So when I got my diagnosis, nothing made sense, especially because there’s no history of cancer in my family.
IBC is an aggressive disease and it had already progressed to my liver and lymph nodes, so I was immediately put on the schedule to start chemotherapy. I had one week to prepare for my first infusion. One week to have my port put in; one week to do all the tests and scans; one week to see surgeons and fertility doctors; it was overwhelming. Because the cancer had already spread to my liver, my doctor said surgery was really not necessary. But I did six rounds of Taxotere along with Herceptin and Perjeta. And for 10 months I received Herceptin and Perjeta until I had a progression to my brain on August, 2016.
I complained with symptoms of blurry vision, headaches and numbness for about a month until my oncologist requested a brain MRI. The scan showed three lesions in my brain small enough to go with gamma knife (stereotactic surgery) instead of radiation. After the surgery I started chemotherapy treatment again receiving Navelbine. I took Navelbine for about three months until my next CT scan showed activity increasing in my breast. I am now on my third line of treatment receiving TDM1 plus Perjeta.
Looking back, I believe my symptoms started almost a year before diagnosis. I ignored the redness and itchiness I had for months. I just thought it was my hormones changing since I was approaching 40. Needless to say, I felt guilty for a long time thinking I could have gone to the doctor sooner. But I’ll never know if that would have changed anything. And that is something I work on to accept every day. Each morning I wake up and look at myself in the mirror and it’s still unbelievable to me that I am walk every day with cancer in my body. But each day I make the choice to continue to live and accept that my life now includes cancer.
Cancer has changed my life tremendously. It has reminded me of how resilient I am. It has helped me re-focus my life back to what is important to me and not sweat the little things. It has taught me how to live a meaningful life.

-Ada O.

  • caroline skowronek
    Posted at 14:23h, 18 April

    good bless you.. and i will say prayers for you.. you do have a wonderful attitude and this will be good for you… you have many who are here to help you with hugs, prayers and talk

  • Rebecca Thomas
    Posted at 14:55h, 18 April

    What a beautiful, strong, courageous young woman you are! I am in awe of you. I’m a 7 year survivor & I had it so easy that sometimes I feel like I had “fake cancer” not the real deal. It upsets my husband when I say that, but it’s how I feel. I had Paget’s of the nipple, a rare form of breast cancer. I had 2 surgeries because they didn’t get clean edges the first time. Then I had 6 weeks of radiation & went on my merry way, a survivor. Three years later one of my daughters was diagnosed with a different breast cancer & a few months after that my brother’s daughter was diagnosed with another very aggressive breast cancer. My daughter was 38, my niece 46. At that point my team recommended I have a mastectomy & I did. I wish I’d done it at the very beginning. But I still know how blessed I am and so is my daughter. My niece is a walking miracle! I admire you & I will pray for you and believe you’ll grow old & enjoy your wonderful life. I don’t know you but I do love you.

  • Rene Bowditch
    Posted at 16:51h, 18 April

    Ada, so admire your resiliency shown in your words here! You are handling well the hand you have been dealt and that is cause to celebrate. Remember, different from cans and bottles, you do NOT have an expiration date stamped on the bottom of your foot! Every day is a gift to each one of us, a present to be opened. You are just more aware of that now than most. So proud of how you are choosing to live that gift. You inspire me to try to do the same. Thank you.

  • Michele Madrigal
    Posted at 18:13h, 18 April

    Thank you so much for sharing your story Ada! It goes to show that you can still be really healthy and develop cancer. To me that proves that cancer isn’t just a physical dis-ease. The health of the spiritual, mental and emotional bodies are just as important as the physical body. Life is about learning to embrace our wholeness on all levels.

  • Joanne Henk
    Posted at 23:08h, 20 April

    George Harrison has a lovely song for you!
    You are so courageous!!!


    Or go to your You Tube George Harrison, What is Life? (w/ lyrics)